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April 28, 2021

The 2021 Sales Funnel

By Matt Dubnik, Chief Engagement Officer

The sales funnel. The sales process. Widen the funnel. Track the conversion. Feel the bottom-line impact.

Each of these phrases is basically saying the same thing: show me the money. Undoubtedly, that is how most business owners think. They believe, “If I do X, and spend Y, my ROI will be Z.”

Well, maybe this is all easy and accurate for you. But for the other 98% of us business owners, it takes time, energy, elbow grease, and a plan.

At Forum, we believe every step of a consumer’s journey matters. Our goal is to make it simple for the consumer and effective for you. But how does this work in 2021? With Covid still in play? Knowing people are begging to interact with you and your product / service?

We believe the sales funnel today is all about making it extremely easy for your customers / clients to engage and interact with your brand. Think about the shift in our lives over the last 13 months: we rely on streaming content, instead of movie theaters; we rely on Instacart, instead of going to the grocery store; we believe Amazon will deliver anything to our front doorstep. What is the prevailing common theme with these things? Simple, instant gratification.

Consider the traditional sales funnel below as we discuss two actionable items.

 

Customer service ALWAYS wins

If you have ever visited a Chick-fil-A, you are very accustomed to their salutation of “My Pleasure”. This is not them going above and beyond; this is their standard. Think about that for a minute: they elevated customer service and are winning at every turn. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index restaurant report for 2019 – 2020, Chick-fil-A is the top restaurant brand. For six straight years. They are not open on Sundays, leaving them one-seventh less opportunity that their competition to impress. They are the third largest chain by sales, despite having a significantly smaller footprint and shorter week in operation that their competition. The company defines their customer service model, referred to as Second Mile Service, as the willingness to put the customer first.

How does this apply to your business and how do you arrive at a level of customer service that wins for you? Remember this adage and consider how it applies to the discussion at hand: “If you’re on time, you’re late; if you’re early, you’re on time.”

Do the things other companies will do. Do not cut corners. Invest in the customer journey. Make them feel valuable. Then do even more. As stated earlier in this article: the sales funnel today is all about making it extremely easy for your customers / clients to engage and interact with your brand. Dorothy embarked on a long, strange trip down the yellow brick road, encountering many impediments on her journey to see the wizard. Some stopped her progress, others were scary. Is this the customer journey you desire for your stakeholders? I doubt it. Embrace them. Hold their hand. Walk with them. Take them down the path of least resistance. They will reward you for it.

The sales funnel does NOT end after the conversion

Look back at the image above. See the red line below conversion and above loyalty? This is where most businesses believe the sales funnel ends and they have done their part for the targeted stakeholder.

We fundamentally disagree with this assessment.

If you believe the red line is the “end” of the yellow brick road and the customer journey, you are missing out on one the most valuable features of the sales funnels. It is the bottom of the funnel, loyalty and advocacy, that we believe produce the best results today. This is the area of focus for the 2021 sales funnel. This is where to put energy and effort. Reward loyalty. Celebrate advocacy. But do both in a huge way. People like to feel special, and they will return this feeling in spades.

We have always stressed to our clients that the bottom of the funnel, below the red line, is where magic happens. So often, we all spend 98% of our energy on the top of the funnel. We make the conversion, and we move on. We forget about all the effort we put in to “win” that new client / customer, only to move on to the next “win”.

Enduring companies last for a reason. Because they passionately pursue engagement above AND below the red line.